Name: Imani Davis
Type of Project: Internship
This summer, I finally had the ability to take on my STEP transformation project. I was fortunate enough to have an internship in the city of Chicago with Steep Theatre Company, an acclaimed storefront theatre (which was once a small grocery store) focused on telling the stories that illuminate larger societal issues.
Being a film and theatre major, I have always known that I wanted to work in the arts but did not know in what capacity. In college, I realized that I love coming up with new ideas and being in a collaborative environment focused on one goal. I love social media and graphic design. I love getting out there and sharing the word about something that I’m passionate about. All of these interests led me to looking more at the business and managing side of the industry. I was surprised and elated to know that internships were offered in these exact fields, which led me right to the doors of Steep. Interning with this company has solidified my decision about my career path. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else than working with theatre and film in the capacity that I did this summer. I learned about not only about the industry, but also about myself and what kind of work I do the best at.
My internship was focused on theatre management and I worked closely with the Executive Director of Steep, Kate Piatt-Eckert. We worked heavily with fundraising and publicity in order to craft an experience around the topics that I’m most passionate about. In the Theatre Management internship, there were many hats that I wore. Some days I would be writing letters to potential donors, other days I was analyzing data for certain pattern, and others I was brainstorming and researching new fundraising and marketing initiatives. In all small arts organizations, the Executive Director wears a great many hats, and while working closely with Steep’s Executive Director, I gained experience in a wide spectrum of theatre management. I was exposed to finance, facilities management, board cultivation, contract administration, individual and organizational giving, marketing, PR, and myriad other functions and had the opportunity to design projects to meet my individual academic and professional goals. Fundraising was never something that I thought that I would be good at but I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. When breaking it down, it makes sense: fundraising requires thinking outside of the box and constantly coming up with new ways to innovate on what you’ve already been doing. Through coming up with ideas for fundraising for Steep, I came across the idea of consulting, another form of work that I would love to do. My own mentor, Kate, was so receptive to my ideas and valued them which made me feel secure in my abilities to come up with new things and new ways of doing. Having this mentorship was truly transformational.
Working with Steep opened my mind to all of the possibilities for jobs out there, which was transformational. It made me confident in my decision to pursue this path and ignore the naysayers that I encountered every time that I told them my major which was a problem that I had in the past and this experience helped me transform. The arts are something that surround us. Someone has to be working in the arts for that to happen, so why not me? I wish to be a mentor for other students who want to pursue anything arts-related to reinforce that it is very possible to be whatever you want to be. Steep is extremely successful and growing, yet it is small, young, and there are thousands more like it. The opportunity is definitely there and I realize that now with my experiences in with this company. I will remember and reflect on this experience for the rest of my life, looking back on the lessons that I learned and people I met. I feel as though this internship really prepared me for what I want to do and I can’t wait to come back and show that to others who aren’t as confident in their abilities or are puzzled at what they want to do.
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